The GUTS to be Greater Than

Learning to Embrace Challenges in a Creative Agency

Epic GUTS illustration by the badass motherstrucker Dave Bunnell!

If you’ve been following my posts, then you know that I was lucky enough to score a coveted internship at Struck. Unlike many internships where interns are given any number of random daily chores to keep them busy, I was provided with an actual choice of what I wanted to do with my time. The only guideline: my work must benefit the agency.

I ended up deciding to create a zine that would showcase a few of the talented folks I’ve been surrounded by these last several weeks. After refining my design concepts I came up with questions to ask the Struckers that would be included in the zine. Things like: What brought you to Struck? How long have you been here? How has Struck evolved since you’ve been here and what role have you played in it’s evolution? What sets Struck apart from other agencies?

All are fairly standard fare. But as I began to ask these questions, there was one in particular which stood out (it would eventually becoming the main focus for the piece).

Some of the bio spreads from the upcoming Struck mag — GUTS

One of Struck’s primary pillars is GUTS. The guts to be different. To stand out from the pack. To try something new, whether or not you know exactly what to expect.

When I asked my Struckers the question “What do guts mean to you?” I got some great responses back:

“Guts means not taking the easy route.”

“Guts means never willing to back down if you truly believe in something.”

“Doing something even when you’re scared to death. Or… Maybe doing something because you’re scared to death.”

“Willing to be vulnerable and wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.”

“Doing the uncomfortable thing. Admitting failure. Pushing people farther than they want to go.”

“Sacrificing your own optics for the greater good.”

Hearing these responses provide me with a great deal of perspective. I feel like it took me a good deal of guts just to take this internship. As an amateur designer who now sits amongst many seasoned pros, I still get a bit anxious every time I come into work. If I didn’t get anxious, I’d think there was something wrong. As I read through my coworkers’ answers I realized that the creative minds at Struck (people who I truly look up to) also face their own challenges every day.

During a recent Struck internal training session on listening and feedback, someone said something to me that sums all of this up perfectly. During the session, we were partnered with someone and then had to explain to them the greatest challenge we’d faced this year. They listened attentively without interrupting or even speaking once. I, of course, talked about my internship. But when it was my partner’s turn to speak, he talked about the challenges he was facing during a new logo design he had been tasked with creating. “It never gets any easier,” he said.

Here I was, assuming that in a creative agency everything just gets simpler as you go. That one day, after you’re a “seasoned pro” you automatically have the answers for everything. But this isn’t true at all and I’m glad.

Without new challenges to face, one wouldn’t need guts in the first place. And having the guts to see your way through life’s obstacles (in both the work place and life outside) is what makes us excel, test our own boundaries and — most importantly — grow as people. By never taking the easy route, even when they could still get by in doing so, and by being fearless in the face of uncertainty, Struck lives up to it’s motto — Greater Than.


James Ramirez is a DJ, freelance graphic designer and cinephile. When he’s not digging for used records he’s searching local strip malls for the best ethnic food. Right now he’s also the summer design intern at Struck.


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